Thursday, December 25, 2014

FreedomPop for home

I've been using a phone or a mobile hotspot for my computer's internet connection from late 2006.  It started with a Samsung A900--Lex Luthor's phone in Smallville.  It was a lousy phone but the 3G connection was reliable, and the speed was better than my 3 Mbps DSL connection.

Lately, I've been using a Novatel Wireless MiFi device with Verizon.  Service was really good at my last location, but just acceptable here.  I gave up on Sprint around March of this year when the Sierra Wireless (now Netgear) device wouldn't connect for 6 hours.

Earlier this month, I was coming close to my full monthly allotment of 10 GB on the 10th day into my billing period.  Uggggh.  I'm currently about 4 GB ($40) over it.  I haven't noticed anyone else using it, but DirecTV seemed to be using a lot, even though I wasn't streaming anything.  I've been working on creating videos lately, but there wasn't that much I was uploading.  In any case, paying loads for extra use, and not knowing how it was happening was difficult.

I looked for FreedomPop after seeing an article about it.  Freedom Hub Burst is a home product similar to a mobile hotspot but without the mobile part.  It needs an AC electrical outlet.  They've been using ClearWire/Clear connections for quite a while.  The only problem with this is that I have some spotty service with Sprint at home.  Both ends of my apartment have LTE but my living room and part of my bedroom are a transition zone between 3G and LTE, so I end up with 1xRTT on my phone too often.

At $21.99 for 10 GB per month, it seemed reasonable, compared to $10 per 1 GB for an overage on Verizon.  Normally, FreedomPop hasn't been charging for the service, but this home service is a bit different, and I'm okay with it.  Like buying a phone with prepaid service, I needed to buy a device.  They supposedly included an extra USB-attached mobile modem but it wasn't included in the box.


Receiving the package on Christmas Eve seemed gift-y.  Opening the package and not finding useful instructions didn't.  Actually, there was a little pamphlet that fell between the cracks, and I found it afterwards.  It would have helped a lot but I already had a connection, read the instructions, and managed to find the page to get everything set.  Looking at the pamphlet, it neglects to tell you the default password for the connection to the device itself, so how do you connect without a current connection?


It has been simple enough to get online, once I set everything.  Speed is reasonable, though not extremely fast, nearly 5 Mbps.  Perhaps, the LTE will improve as Sprint/Clear finish their deployment in this area.  Response time seems minimal and it feels like a good connection.  Unlike my phone, I can leave the device near a window on the edge of the apartment where the connection is better.

Having an extra 10 GB for about the same as 2 GB overage isn't bad.  I can connect the TV and Blu-Ray player to it and they can update firmware to their CPU's content, even when I'm not home.  I'm thinking that I shouldn't connect my DirecTV receiver, as it will take advantage of the connection in big ways.  Now, my mobile hotspot can once again be mobile, and I can even update those extra iPhone apps without having to look for a WiFi connection elsewhere.

Update 2015.01.13: Saturday, I received a WiMAX/3G modem, like the one Sprint discontinued quite a while ago.  I couldn't download the connection manager software from FreedomPop, so I downloaded it from Sprint.

It connected but then told me that there was no free 4G service available and that 3G service wasn't free.  I only have one question--why send me this unusable piece of technology, to clear the warehouse?

Update 2015.03.27: The other day, the company offered me an upgrade for the useless WiMAX modem.  For $29.99, I could get a Franklin brand LTE modem.  It sounded great, but then, they wanted me to take a premium 2 GB data package for $21.99 per month.  It's not horrible, when you consider AT&T and Verizon and I could cancel later.

However, they're counting on someone missing that, and I missed the data rollover option that they slipped into the WiMAX modem package, and they've been charging me $3.99 + tax until I checked practically every option on the web site.

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